I worried about everything as a child. By the time I was 10 years old, I was experiencing horrible stomach aches. I had intense school anxiety. I would feel okay eating breakfast in the morning, but by lunchtime, I would go to the nurse’s office and lie down and try to deal with the pain and burning in my stomach. After a few years of this cycle, my parents took me to a gastroenterologist who performed an endoscopy showing several stomach ulcers. They were quite serious, and the doctor immediately put me on a stomach acid-blocking medication. No one asked how I felt emotionally. No one asked about my diet. It seemed so unimportant how I felt inside. No one explored how or under what circumstances these stomach ulcers originated. Contrary to my doctor’s idea that my stomach ulcers were of unknown origin, those stomach ulcers originated in my overactive worrying mind. Western medicine tends to treat the symptoms of disease, but Ayurveda treats the whole person.
Ayurveda (Sanskrit: “the knowledge of life”), is a 5,000-year-old medical system from India which is still practiced today. Ayurveda’s primary goal is to keep mankind healthy – body and soul. The Ayurvedic approach believes in treating the whole body, restoring it to its original state of balance and wellbeing, allowing the person to pursue their spiritual goals. Ayurveda explains that all disease originates in the digestive system. Our digestive fire (Sanskrit: agni) is out front when it comes to our overall health. Established at the time of conception, all humans have their own unique constitution or “original creation” (Sanskrit: prakruti). Our prakruti is made up of three governing influences called doshas: Pitta, Kapha, and Vata. Each has attributes or qualities associated with it that influence behaviors inside our bodies. Pitta, with fire and heat, governs the lower stomach and small intestines. Kapha representing earth and water provides for the structure and fuel for the fire. Vata made up of air and ether, provides for movement within the body and supports the strength for the fire. At the time of your conception, you were a unique combination of all three doshas, and that never changes. However, your vikruti (Sanskrit: “after creation”), or current state of balance does change. Factors such as emotion, age, climate, season, diet, and lifestyle affect the state of our vikruti. When doshas are not in balance, as they were at the time of your conception, digestion will be affected, and this will in turn affect other systems of your body.
According to Ayurveda, the digestive system is much like a campfire requiring fuel (Kapha), air (Vata), and heat (Pitta) to properly digest and absorb nutrients and build healthy tissues. A disturbance in any dosha affects the power of digestion leaving charred waste (undigested food) behind. In Ayurveda, this debris is a toxin (Sanskrit: Ama). Ama becomes the disease-causing product in the digestive tract. Therefore, it is important to properly care for the three doshas to maintain a healthy balance of digestive fire.
What we take in through our five senses (diet, color, and visual impressions, sound, smells, and touch) has a direct impact on the state of doshic balance in our digestive tract and overall health. In addition, psycho-spiritual practices like yoga, meditation, mindfulness, compassion, and time spent taking in beauty through art and nature help to support our overall wellbeing as well our doshic balance.
Thanks to Ayurveda, I have been disease and pain-free for many years.
Sheerie Berjansky is a Yoga teacher, Reiki practitioner, Therapeutic Chakra Healer, and Ayurveda student at CCA. Sheerie is dedicated to the science and practice of Ayurveda, yoga, and meditation for better health of mind, body, and spirit. Her goal is to continue in her Ayurvedic studies and start a blog to educate and empower others to begin their wellness journey on the path of Ayurveda. Sheerie is an artist and avid animal lover and the mother of two grown children. She lives in Lancaster County Pennsylvania with her husband, three dogs, and 5 chickens